A 19th century destination wedding
by Kimberly Keagan
Destination weddings are currently very popular—the more unique the better. But even in the 19th century, couples, especially in the United States, tried different ways to make their wedding day memorable.
On July 12, 1890, the British magazine The Gentlewoman took the time to poke fun at a unique American weddings:
“It is possible, perhaps, even in this realistic age, that there still exist unsophisticated folk, who believe that matrimony is, figuratively speaking, the gate to the seventh heaven of bliss. This was, however, actually realized in a literal sense the other day when Mr. C.G. Stowell was united to Miss Lottie Anderson in an anchored balloon. After the ceremony was over, the bridegroom, who is a professional aeronaut, cut the cords which bound to them to earth, and they have not since been heard of! Needless to say, this interesting experiment, which was witnessed by 10,000 people, took place on “the other side of the pond.”
Interestingly, the story wasn't entirely accurate. Note to British readers in the 19th century: don't always believe what you read about your cousins across the pond!
As reported in the Tacoma, Washington, News Tribune:
"Mr. and Mrs. Christopher J. Stowell, who made their wedding tour in a balloon under the guidance of Professor J.K. Allen, of Providence, R.I., from Lowell, at the fair grounds July 4th, landed after an hour and 40 minutes in the clouds at what is known as Breakneck Hill in the town of Byfield, Mass. The adventurous couple had an uneventful tour, but a decidedly eventful arrival on terra firma. The rain had so soaked the netting of the balloon, and basket, that it would not lift any ballast, much less the officiating clergyman […] and as balloons have a habit of almost touching the earth and then springing away again without warning when the vessel touched the ground the bridegroom gallantly assisted Mrs. Stowell to alight. When she placed one foot on the ground, the lessened cargo was felt and up the balloon started. The presence of mind of Mr. Allen averted a serious accident. He grasped Mrs. Stowell and pulled her into the basket. The aeronaut then took charge of the disembarkation, and all went well."
Image: The wedding party for Margaret Buckley and Edward T. Davis with aeronaut James Allen, Sept. 27, 1888. National Air and Space Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution
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